Annabel was bored. It was Monday and her father was at work. Her mother, although home, was busy with the laundry and talking to Aunt Judy on the phone. And Toby said she was too little to go with him and his friends to the park. He didn’t want to be bothered keeping an eye on his 6 year old sister.
“Fine! I didn’t want to go with you and your dumb friends anyway!” she shouted after them as they raced off down the street on their bikes. That was a lie. More than anything Annabel wanted to be old enough to ride her bike to the park like her brother. The park had swings, and a pond with frogs and ducks, and, on a day as hot as today, the snowball stand would be open and she could trade the quarters she’d saved up for a cherry red cup of shaved ice with marshmallow crème on top. Instead, she had only the front steps and the tree house in the back yard to keep her occupied. Her parents said the tree house was for both of them, but Toby made sure she knew it had been his before she even existed and that, no matter what they said, it still was. If she kept her mouth shut about it he let her come up there with him sometimes and drop things over the side to see who’s landed first. Occasionally he’d let her use his magnifying glass and even promised to show her how to light a leaf on fire with it one day. But not today. Today he had his friends and he didn’t want Annabel hanging around. She briefly considered retrieving the magnifying glass from the tree house and trying it on her own but decided against it. If he came home and found her with it he’d know she’d been up there without him and it wasn’t worth the risk, no matter how mad she was at him at the moment.
Annabel sat down on the front steps, the street in front of her empty and quiet. Everyone was at the park but her, she thought, feeling quite sorry for herself. And there she sat; with her sad little face in her hands, elbows on her knees. When she tired of feeling sorry for herself, no one having noticed, she got up and walked along the sidewalk in front of the house, careful not to go past the corner. The corner was the limit her parents had set for her and if she ever had hopes of going to the park by herself she had to follow the rules. She dragged a stick along the fence as she walked, rattling the chain links as she went and bringing Mrs. Gallagher’s dog to the front yard, barking and yapping at her. She stuck her fingers through the circles in the fence and offered him the last of her peanut butter toast, which he readily accepted and licked her fingers heartily in thanks. And when he finished, she reached down and picked up a piece of blue chalk she noticed lying in the grass near her feet. It was slightly damp and its edges were rounded from being left out in the rain. She pulled it across the rough cement, leaving a blue trail on the sidewalk as she went, wondering if it would run out before she made it back to her steps. It didn’t, and she drew a few extra lines that swirled out to the edge of the sidewalk for good measure. The chalk was just a sliver now and she ground the last of it, with her thumb, into a small pit on the curb. Next to the pit was a tiny pile of sand, about the size of the chocolate chip cookies Annabel’s grandmother baked for her on occasion, about the same color too. Its sides sloped slightly toward the top where it rounded off a bit and ended with a tiny hole out of which climbed a tiny black ant carrying a single grain of sand. He placed the grain with the others on the heap and then proceeded along the curb before disappearing into a crack in the sidewalk. Another ant, just as small, emerged from the heap with another grain and did the same. Annabel watched for a bit, ant after ant, before deciding that this, too, was boring.
She placed a rock in the path leading from the heap to the crack, which the ants simply climbed over or went around. And neither the stick nor the handful of grass she placed in their way seemed to have any effect at all. Boring…just like her whole morning had been and how she expected her whole afternoon to be as well. Frustrated, Annabel smacked the pile of sand, sending the grains scattering off the curb and into the street. She lay there on the sidewalk for several minutes, wondering how much longer it would be until lunchtime. She was allowed a half hour of tv at lunchtime each day before her mother would usher her back outside to play. Perhaps her brother would be home by then.
“Excuse me, Miss,” said a tiny voice, “but you’ve just destroyed a full morning’s effort.” The voice sounded quite annoyed and Annabel sat up quickly and looked around to see where it was coming from. “Yes, that’s right…I’m speaking to you,” said the voice, a little harder to hear now. Annabel looked down in the direction of the voice, but all she saw was a tiny ant, standing where the sand pile had been. She bent down closer, thinking he looked a little odd, and odd he was indeed. Right there, in front of her very eyes, she saw him… standing on two tiny back legs, two middle legs resting on his sides (rather like her mother stood, with her hands on her hips, when Annabel was in trouble) and pointing his front most leg right at her. “You’ve spent the morning doing everything in your power to make our work harder, and now you’ve gone and destroyed it all together. I demand an apology.” Annabel sat in stunned silence, staring at the little ant, beginning to feel quite small herself; and suddenly her day didn’t seem so boring after all.
© Kelly Rainey and 500wordsandcounting.wordpress.com, 2015.
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